Last week, the Gospel took place by the Jordan River at Jesus' baptism. The Gospel for this Sunday takes place the very next day.
The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, ‘Look, here is the Lamb of God!’
This Gospel passage can get a bit confusing. There are four people here: John the Baptist, Jesus, and two disciples. At the beginning of the passage, the two disciples belong to John the Baptist. That means they follow John and listen to his preaching.
John the Baptist points out Jesus to the two disciples. He calls Jesus, "the Lamb of God." This is not a name that the disciples know. It is something new.
The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.
So this is interesting. When the two disciples of John hear him call Jesus by this unusual name, they do not ask him what it means. Instead of asking any questions at all, they follow Jesus. This is what John the Baptist does. He always points the way to Jesus. His disciples become Jesus' disciples.
When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, ‘What are you looking for?’
We might expect Jesus to be annoyed that people are following him. But when Jesus turns and sees the disciples, he does not seem upset. He simply asks them a question. The disciples, however, do not seem to find this simple. They do not have an answer for him. Maybe they do not even know what they are looking for. Instead, they answer his question with a question of their own:
They said to him, ‘Rabbi’ (which translated means Teacher), ‘where are you staying?’ He said to them, ‘Come and see.’ They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day.
The disciples at first seem polite, calling Jesus, "Rabbi" or Teacher. But then they ask him a rather personal question. They ask where he is staying. The word for "staying" that they use means "to remain" or "to abide." "Abide" means to live where you make your home. The disciples are asking to see his home.
We might expect Jesus to be displeased by this very personal question from two people he has never met before. But instead, Jesus invites them to come and to see. He invites them into the place where he is staying. He invites them into his home.
The word used for staying--the word meaning remaining or abiding--is repeated three times within these three sentences. Repeated words point us to something important. Something important is happening here.
When Jesus first asks the disciples to consider what they are looking for, they respond by wanting to know where Jesus lives. What does this tell us about them? They desire to know Jesus better. They want to come close to him. And Jesus responds by inviting them into his home. What does this tell us about Jesus? He desires that they know him better; he desires that they come closer. Their desires match!
When the disciples spend time with Jesus, when they remain with him, what happens?
One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (which is translated Anointed).
Andrew cannot wait to share his experience with his brother. Notice what he calls Jesus. He does not call Jesus by the unusual name, "Lamb of God," like John the Baptist does. Andrew also does not call Jesus "Rabbi" any longer. He calls Jesus "the Messiah," the Anointed One, the One Chosen by God.
What has happened here? Remaining with Jesus has changed Andrew. He understands something more about Jesus. He knows Jesus better.
This can only mean that the Holy Spirit is at work! Understanding and knowledge are both gifts of the Holy Spirit! Remaining with Jesus unwrapped these gifts.
We receive the Holy Spirit when we are baptized. These same gifts are given to us. So how do we unwrap them? Like Andrew and the other disciple, we must have to remain with Jesus. How can we do this? What ideas can we think of to remain with Jesus?
Our desire to know Jesus better, to understand more about him, matches Jesus' desire for us to come closer. "Come and see," he says, and he invites us into his home.